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Insourcing fad misses the point (and misleads agencies)

Agencies that rush to bring contractor work back into the fold could be making a big mistake, according to several readers.

In a recent blog post, we asked readers to advise agencies on the pitfalls to avoid when trying to insource work. Mistake number one: Trying to make a point of insourcing work.

Read the comments below and let us know what you think. Post your thoughts as a comment on this blog. We will publish a selection of the best comments in an upcoming issue of Federal Computer Week. You can read the original post and its comments here (be sure to click on “View all comments”).

* Come on, let's get serious. I've worked all "sides" of this argument — military, civil service and contractor. Thankfully, contractors not only specialize in providing "business" solutions, but must also do so in a highly competitive environment. Some even have military experience or an MBA to help their understanding of a particular problem to solve. Civil servants should and typically do play the role of a system or process "owner" and must demonstrate leadership in that role. Military officers bring operational experience and a vitally important and practical user perspective to the problem. To be effective, the three groups should work as a badgeless team and avoid trying to "go it alone" or bashing contractors. The best government leaders are those who appreciate the diverse skills and experience afforded by this unique business model. Insourcing for the sake of excluding contractors is very short-sighted and will harm our national security if continued. It's borderline anti-American and completely inconsistent with today's business trends of virtualized teams, decentralized management and pay for performance. It's another step toward a large, inefficient and unsustainable bureaucracy.

* It is interesting that the pendulum may swing the other way — insourcing vs. outsourcing. When outsourcing became fashionable, there were few firms that actually scoped it out and developed an effective game plan & strategy (and anticipated compensating factors, when it did not work). Let's hope that the lessons learned can be applied, when the pendulum swings to insourcing. Although have been aligned with the DOD/DOE and have worked in an environment where the government/military, defense contractors and commercial technology providers learned to work collaboratively (over many years & many trials & tribulations), believe the same approach needs to be employed to support insourcing. Prefer not to predict or pass judgment on insourcing's viability — it has strong benefits — and, if not understood, planned and managed — could be the next Government Rube Goldberg. Are there real experts out there that the government can leverage to turn the Las Vegas-style, roulette game into a winner?

Posted by John Stein Monroe on Aug 10, 2009 at 12:14 PM


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